How To Insert Subscript and Superscript In Google Sheets

Adding subscript and superscript in Google Sheets is easy once you know how. Whether you’re a student working on math homework, a teacher preparing materials for class, or a professional analyzing statistics, mastering the use of subscript and superscript can help you clearly communicate mathematical concepts.

In this beginner-friendly guide, you’ll learn multiple methods to insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.

But before we delve into the hands-on part of today’s guide, let’s quickly understand what exactly a subscript or superscript means.

Demystifying Subscripts and Superscripts

You’ve likely seen tiny numbers and letters in math textbooks and scientific papers that sit either below or above the baseline of standard text. These formatting flourishes are known as subscripts and superscripts, and they serve an important mathematical purpose.

Simply put, a subscript refers to a number or symbol displayed below and slightly smaller than the surrounding text, while a superscript appears above and in a smaller font than regular letters or numbers.

For example, you might display the chemical formula for water with the subscript “2” nestled below the “H” to indicate two hydrogen atoms: H₂O. On the flip side, superscript comes into play when you square a number or expression, such as x2.

By formatting numbers or variables in this special way, subscripts and superscripts allow you to convey detailed mathematical relationships and terminology without cluttering the main line of text. This improves readability and understanding dramatically.

Superscript and Subscript in Google Sheets – Reasons You Might Need Them

While Google Sheets shines as a number-crunching spreadsheet application, you’ll often need to communicate mathematical concepts that require more than raw data. This is where the ability to add subscript and superscript comes into play.

You may need subscript when writing out chemical compound formulas, like H2O, to represent two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom.

Mathematics and statistics also rely heavily on subscripts to indicate variables in a sequence (a0, a1, a2) or versions of the same variable.

Superscript has its primary usage when dealing with exponents, like x2 to convey that a number or variable is raised to a specific power. You’ll also see superscript used for representing temperatures, such as 98.6°F.

Whether you need to correctly communicate mathematical formulae, chemical equations, statistical relationships, or exponentiated variables, harnessing subscript and superscript expands what you can represent in Google Sheets.

Copy Sample Sheets

It’s always a great idea to follow our examples to get hands-on experience on how to insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.
So if you want to follow along with the steps we will outline shortly for inserting subscript and superscript in Google Sheets, feel free to copy our sample sheet below.

Copy Sheet

Practical Applications: Different Ways to Insert Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets

Having understood the basics of subscript and superscript in Google Sheets and when you might need to use them, it’s time we jump into the practical aspect of inserting subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.

This section will show you different ways to insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Method 1: Insert Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets Using the CHAR() Function

The CHAR() function stands as a built-in utility within Google Sheets, designed to translate a specified decimal value into its corresponding character.

You see, every character is associated with a unique numerical value, known as an ASCII code.

Take, for instance, the decimal value associated with the character ‘B’ is 66, and we can prove that using the CHAR() function.

If you type the following formula:

In your spreadsheet and press the Enter button on your keyboard, you should get B in the selected cell.

Similarly, ASCII codes are assigned to a range of characters, including subscript and superscript numerals from 0 to 9, alongside mathematical symbols like parentheses (), plus +, minus –, and equals =.

While numerical values exist for certain subscript and superscript letters, they do not cover all alphabetic characters.

To show you how to use the CHAR function to insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets, we will use the following sample data:

Our objective with this sample data is to use the CHAR() function to convert the character in column A into subscript. And since we have provided the different ASCII codes associated with each character in Column B, our job is pretty easy.

Here is how to go about it:

Step 1: Choose an Empty Cell

If you look closely at our sample data, you’ll see that we already have a column header where we want our subscript to be.

So what we want to do is choose a cell in that column where we want our first subscript to be. For this example, we will go with cell C2.

Step 2: Enter the CHAR Formula

Having chosen an empty cell in your spreadsheet where you want the subscript to be, all you need to do is enter the CHAR formula

To do that, navigate to the formula bar and type in the following formula:

Step 3: Press Enter

With the CHAR formula entered like we showed you in the previous step, go ahead and press the Enter button on your keyboard and the result should be instantly generated in the selected cell.

Here is how ours played out:

Step 4: Generate Results for the Other Cells

From the screenshot above, you can see that we were only able to generate the subscript for cell C2. So, we need to get the result for the other cells.

But instead of repeating the steps we showed you, you can use Google Sheets auto-fill option to simplify the entire process.

The video below shows you exactly how to go about it.

Using the CHAR Function to Generate Subscript for Alphabetical Characters

In the previous example, we showed you how to use the CHAR function to insert subscript for numerical characters.

But as we mentioned right from the get-go, you can also use the CHAR function to insert subscript for alphabetical characters.

So, in this section, we will show you how to go about that.

Also, we will use the following sample data to demonstrate the entire process.

Step 1: Choose an Empty Cell

As we did for the other example, we need to choose a blank cell in our spreadsheet. This is where we want the result of the subscript to be.

So, for this example, we will choose cell C2.

Step 2: Enter the CHAR Formula

Now, let’s apply our CHAR formula. To do that, head over to the formula bar and type in the following formula:

Step 3: Press Enter

After entering the formula precisely as outlined in Step 2, press the Enter key on your keyboard.

The subscript should now be generated within the selected cell.

For reference, here’s an example of how it should appear:

Step 4: Generate Results for other Cells

So far, we have generated the subscript for the first character. However, we need to apply the same process to the remaining characters.

But instead of repeating the steps manually for each cell, we can leverage Google Sheets’ auto-fill option for efficiency.

To generate subscripts for the remaining cells, follow these steps:

Start by choosing the cell containing the first subscript formula you entered. With that done, hover your mouse over the bottom-right corner of the selected cell until the cursor changes to a black cross.

Now, click and drag the cursor across the remaining cells where you want to generate subscripts.

Finally, release the mouse button, and Google Sheets will automatically populate the dragged cells with the appropriate subscript formulas based on the relative cell references.

The video below provides better clarification:

In the previous examples, we demonstrated how to insert subscripts in Google Sheets. Now, let’s take it a step further and explore how to insert superscripts as well.

To illustrate the process, we’ll use the following sample data:

Step 1: Select the Target Cell

Begin by identifying the cell where you want the superscript to appear. This cell will display the resulting expression with the superscript characters.

For our sample data, let’s select cell B2 as the target cell.

Step 2: Enter the Superscript Formula

Unlike the previous examples with subscripts, the CHAR function cannot generate superscripts in Google Sheets. Instead, we’ll utilize the CONCATENATE function to achieve this.

Here’s what you need to do:

Navigate to the formula bar of the target cell you selected in Step 1 (in our example, cell B2) and enter the following formula:

Step 3: Press Enter

After entering the formula as we described in Step 2. Go ahead and press the Enter button on your keyboard. The result for the subscript will be instantly generated in the selected cell.

Here is what ours looks like.

Step 4: Generating Superscripts for Other Expressions

One limitation of using the CONCATENATE formula approach is that it doesn’t easily allow for copying and pasting the formula across multiple cells. This is because the formula needs to be tailored specifically for each superscript expression.

To generate superscripts for other expressions in your spreadsheet, you’ll need to modify the formula accordingly for each cell.

Here’s how you can proceed:

Select the next cell where you want to generate the superscript expression (for our example, cell B3 for “X2”).

Now, navigate to the formula bar and type in the following formula:

Finally, press enter to apply the formula to the selected cell.

You should get something like this:

Now, do the same for the other expressions, each time modifying the CONCATENATE formula as needed to reflect the desired characters and their superscript positions.

Note: While the process of manually entering the CONCATENATE formula for each superscript expression may seem cumbersome at first, it becomes more straightforward with practice.

However, we understand that this approach might not be the most efficient or user-friendly, especially when dealing with a large number of expressions or complex scenarios.

If you’re interested in exploring more streamlined methods for generating superscripts in Google Sheets, we’ve got you covered.

In the next section, we will review other methods for inserting subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.

Method 2: Using Google Docs for Superscripts and Subscripts

In the previous sections, we demonstrated how to insert subscripts and superscripts in Google Sheets using the CHAR and CONCATENATE functions. While these methods provide flexibility in constructing superscript and subscript expressions, they can be cumbersome, especially when dealing with a large number of expressions or complex scenarios.

However, there’s an alternative approach that leverages the formatting capabilities of Google Docs.

Believe it or not, you can use Google Docs to apply superscript and subscript formatting and then transfer the formatted content back to your Google Sheets spreadsheet.

In this section, we’ll show you how to utilize this handy workaround.

Step 1: Select the Text or Value

In your Google Sheets spreadsheet, select the text or value that you want to convert to a superscript or subscript.

For this example, let’s go with the 2 from H20.

Step 2: Copy the Selected Text

After selecting the desired text or value, copy it to your clipboard (you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C or right-click and select “Copy”).

Launch Google Docs in a new tab or window.

Step 4: Paste the Copied Text

In the Google Docs document, paste the copied text or value from your clipboard (you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V or right-click and select “Paste”).

Step 5: Apply Superscript or Subscript Formatting

In Google Docs, select the pasted text or value. Go to the “Format” menu and choose “Text.”

From the “Text” submenu, select either “Superscript” or “Subscript” depending on your desired formatting.

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+. (period) for superscript or Ctrl+, (comma) for subscript.

For our example, we will choose the option for Superscript.

Step 6: Copy the Formatted Text

After applying the superscript or subscript formatting in Google Docs, copy the formatted text or value to your clipboard (you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C or right-click and select “Copy”).

Step 7: Paste the Formatted Text in Google Sheets

Switch back to your Google Sheets spreadsheet. Select the cell where you want to paste the formatted text or value.

Paste the formatted text or value from your clipboard (you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V or right-click and select “Paste”).

By leveraging the formatting capabilities of Google Docs, you can easily apply superscripts and subscripts to text or values, and then transfer the formatted content back to your Google Sheets spreadsheet.

This method provides a user-friendly alternative to the formula-based approaches, especially for those who prefer a more visual and straightforward process.

Using Unicode Symbols to Insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets

Another seamless method for incorporating subscript and superscript into Google Sheets involves utilizing Unicode Symbols.

Think of Unicode symbols as akin to the emojis you’re familiar with, but with the versatility to blend seamlessly into your text.

This technique stands out for its simplicity compared to other methods we’ve explored. To employ it, simply copy and paste the Unicode symbol of your choice directly into your spreadsheet.

Discovering the exact subscript or superscript Unicode symbol is straightforward—just a quick Google search away. This eliminates the need to manually create these characters.

For those looking to bypass the step of searching on Google, websites like Compart.com are invaluable resources. Compart.com boasts a comprehensive collection of subscript and superscript symbols, offering an intuitive user interface for easy navigation.

For example, if you’re in need of the subscript for the number 10, a search with keywords like “superscript ten” will quickly yield the appropriate symbol. It’s remarkably straightforward.

To succinctly summarize the process of inserting subscripts and superscripts into Google Sheets using Unicode symbols, follow these steps:

• Conduct an online search for the Unicode, or visit Compart.com for a more directed search.
• Select the superscript or subscript symbol that fits your needs.
• Copy and paste the symbol into the desired cell in your Google Sheets document.

Final Thoughts

Adding subscripts and superscripts to your Google Sheets data may seem like a minor formatting detail, but it can significantly improve the clarity and precision of your mathematical expressions, chemical formulas, and statistical representations.

Throughout this guide, we’ve explored multiple methods to insert subscripts and superscripts in Google Sheets, catering to different preferences and use cases.

Whether you’re a student, teacher, researcher, or professional working with mathematical or scientific data, mastering these techniques can elevate the quality and comprehensibility of your work.

From leveraging the built-in CHAR and CONCATENATE functions to harnessing the formatting capabilities of Google Docs or taking advantage of Unicode symbols, each method offers its unique strengths and drawbacks.

While the formula-based approaches provide flexibility and control, the Google Docs method offers a more visual and user-friendly experience.

On the flip side, Unicode symbols, offer a straightforward solution, especially when dealing with predefined subscripts and superscripts.

Ultimately, the method you choose will depend on your specific needs, the complexity of the expressions you’re working with, and your personal preferences.

We encourage experimenting with these different techniques to help you determine the most efficient and effective approach for your workflow.

Remember, mastering subscripts and superscripts in Google Sheets is not just about aesthetics; it’s about communicating complex mathematical and scientific concepts with precision and clarity.